There is renewed uncertainty around delivery dates and amounts of Moderna vaccines for Canada. While Ottawa has secured more AstraZeneca doses, some criticize the plan to draw supplies from the COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative.
There is renewed uncertainty around delivery dates and amounts of Moderna vaccines for Canada. While Ottawa has secured more AstraZeneca doses, some criticize the plan to draw supplies from the COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative.
Another type of COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada on Friday. The new vaccines are manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University. Canada also approved the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Afterwards, Anita Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that Canada has secured two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks. The remaining 1.5 million doses are expected to arrive by mid-May. “The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19. This includes securing a highly diverse and extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive them,” Anand said in a release. “We remain fully on track to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply so that every eligible Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September. I am grateful for the collaboration of our partners in India to finalize this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the weeks ahead.” The two million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses. The application for authorization from AstraZeneca was received on Oct. 1, 2020 and from from Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India (in partnership with AstraZeneca Canada Inc.) on January 23, 2021. After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. These are the first viral vector-based vaccines authorized in Canada. These are also two-dose regiments and can be kept refrigerated for at least six months. Health Canada’s authorization of the Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India product relies on the assessment of its comparability to the AstraZeneca-produced version of the vaccine.. These vaccines were authorized with terms and conditions under Health Canada’s Interim Order on the importation of drugs for COVID-19 The process allowed Health Canada to assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it became available during the product development process, while maintaining Canadian standards. Health Canada has placed terms and conditions on the authorizations requiring the manufacturers to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines to ensure their benefits continue to be demonstrated through market use. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — Chloé Zhao became the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes and the first female winner of Asian descent on a night in which her film “Nomadland” was crowned the top drama film. Zhao, who was among three women nominated in the directing category, was honoured for her work on “Nomadland,” about people who take to the road and move from place to place seeking work for usually low wages. It stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and includes nonprofessional actors. “I especially want to thank the nomads who shared their stories with us,” Zhao said, accepting the directing honour virtually on Sunday night. She singled out real-life nomad Bob Wells, who appears in the movie, for help with her remarks. “This is what he said about compassion,” Zhao said. “Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart to heart pounding. Your pain is my pain. It’s mingled and shared between us.” The 38-year-old director who lives in Los Angeles is a leading Oscar contender for “Nomadland,” which is in select theatres and streaming on Hulu. “Now this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories because it gives us a chance to laugh and cry together and it gives us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other,” Zhao said in her acceptance remarks. “So thank you everyone who made it possible to do what I love.” She joins Barbra Streisand, who won in 1984 for “Yentl,” as the only women to win directing honours at the Globes. Until this year, just five women had been nominated in the category. “Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming. You feel like, it’s about time,” Zhao said in virtual backstage comments. “I’m sure there’s many others before me that deserve the same recognition. If this means more people like me get to live their dreams and do what I do, I’m happy.” Regina King ("One Night in Miami...") and Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") were the other female director nominees. Zhao also was nominated for best motion picture screenplay and lost to Aaron Sorkin. McDormand received a nod for actress in a motion picture drama, but lost. Born in China, Zhao made her feature directing debut in 2015 with “Songs My Brother Taught Me.” She broke out in 2017 with “The Rider.” Next up for her is the big-budget Marvel film “Eternals,” set for release this fall. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s legendary career is being celebrated in a Heritage Minute.Historica Canada released the newest clip, timed for Black History Month, in its ongoing series that highlights influential figures from across the country.The minute-long video chronicles the seven-time Grammy winner's rise from a working-class Montreal family to becoming a world-renowned piano virtuoso.It touches on his encounters with greatness, such as being dubbed “the man with four hands,” and acknowledges the racism he faced at jazz gigs in the 1940s.Peterson died of kidney failure in 2007 at the age of 82.Both the English and French versions of the Heritage Minute feature end narration by Black Canadian pianists. Oliver Jones appears in the English version while Gregory Charles handles the French.The Heritage Minute is written by Brynn Byrne and directed by Aaron Yeger, known as co-writer and producer of the acclaimed 2015 film "Sleeping Giant."Historica Canada also produced a companion video exploring the history of Little Burgundy, a Black working-class community in Montreal and the jazz culture within it. The separate clip is narrated by Peterson’s daughter Celine Peterson, who was consulted about her father's Heritage Minute from its inception.Peterson says her father received many honours throughout his career, but she believes he would be especially proud of seeing his story in a Heritage Minute.“I think this is one of the ones that would really overwhelm him," she said.“People all over the world are familiar with the Heritage Minute, and it’s such a monumental form of recognition."Peterson, who serves as producer of the Kensington Market Jazz Festival in Toronto, says the debut of her father’s Heritage Minute during Black History Month is significant.“A huge part of my dad's story was racism, first at home and then around the world,” she said, pointing out that it was especially prominent early in his career as he travelled the southern United States.“He told the story when I was young about driving up on a KKK meeting when they were going from city to city. Hearing him talk about it is still haunting for me today. Maybe even a bit more so now than it was before.”Peterson's Heritage Minute is an especially cinematic one, which raises the question of whether his relatives have considered granting the rights for his story to a production company for a feature film."In the past, there have been some conversations but nothing that has necessarily been the right fit," his daughter said."Having his story told in that capacity would be natural, to a certain extent. It needs to happen, it's just a matter of when and by whom."--Watch the Oscar Peterson Heritage Minute: https://bit.ly/3bgpHHmThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the narration by Black Canadian pianists was for the full Heritage Minute. In fact, the pianists contribute only the end narration in both English and French.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said on Monday that Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka had gone back into lockdown due to rising COVID-19 cases and transmission of more infectious variants. Seven other public health units eased restrictions, as they moved down a level in the provincial framework.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern):10:40 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 today and six more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says of the new cases, 280 are in Toronto, 182 are in Peel Region and 72 are in Ottawa.Ontario says 939 more cases were resolved since the last daily report.More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since Sunday's update.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" is making Canadian history on Spotify. The Toronto-raised singer's hit single has become the first song by a Canadian artist to pass two billion plays on the streaming platform. And he's only the fourth artist in the world to join this elite group of massively popular songs. Ahead of him is "Dance Monkey" by Australia's Tones and I (2.1 billion streams), "Rockstar" by American Post Malone (2.12 billion) and the leader "Shape of You" from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (2.7 billion). A couple of other Canadians could also reach two billion streams with one of their songs later this year. Drake's "One Dance" is teetering around the mark with 1.98 billion streams, which ranks him one spot behind the Weeknd as the No. 5 most-streamed song. Shawn Mendes' "Senorita" is at No. 9 with 1.7 billion plays. The Weeknd's streaming numbers were helped by his performance at the Super Bowl, which gave his entire catalogue of albums a boost. But it's fellow Torontonian Drake who holds the biggest streaming crown on Spotify. He earned the platform's most-streamed artist of the decade honour at the end of 2019. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Health Canada has approved two more rapid tests that can indicate the prevalence of COVID-19 immunity, devices experts say should be used judiciously but can help ensure the success of vaccines. While there’s a more urgent push for rapid diagnostic tests to find current COVID-19 cases in the community, experts welcomed additional tools to reveal previous infections and antibodies that can shield populations from further outbreaks. Occupational and public health expert Thomas Tenkate notes many questions still surround emerging COVID-19 vaccines, including what level of protection is required for immunity, how long vaccines guard against infection, and whether and how various populations may respond differently. That's where strategic use of serology tests come in, such as the two point-of-care ones that got the green light Feb. 12, which join a list of others previously approved. While it’s believed previous COVID-19 infections may offer some immunity, exactly how much and for how long is not clear, and experts still advise recovered patients get a vaccine. "It really (provides) population-based research that will help in prevention, and better ways to fight the virus," says Tenkate, an associate professor at Ryerson University. Unlike diagnostic tests that reveal active infections, serology tests detect the presence of antibodies sparked by previous infection or a successful response to a COVID-19 vaccine. But the information they provide is limited and prone to misinterpretation, cautions Tenkate, who says the tests should be administered and interpreted by a health-care professional. Such dangers are highlighted in a New England Journal of Medicine article in which two FDA officials regret the way emergency approvals arrived in the United States in March 2020. "Knowing what we know now, we would not have permitted serology tests to be marketed without FDA review and authorization, even within the limits we initially imposed," Jeffrey Shuren and Timothy Stenzel say in the current print issue dated Thursday. The co-authors say government officials over-promoted the role of serology tests in reopening the economy, while the market was flooded with questionable products, some which performed poorly and many marketed in a way that conflicted with FDA policy. The FDA changed its policy May 4 to assess product claims, and by Feb. 1, 2021, had removed listings for 225 tests from its website, issued 15 warning letters, and placed 88 firms on import alert for violations. Serology tests aren't available for at-home use in Canada but the curious can obtain a test privately — LifeLabs advertises a $75 test on its website for residents in Ontario and British Columbia. Susan Paish, co-chair of the federal COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, finds it hard to see the benefit of a serology test for individuals, stressing the value they offer in evaluating broader testing and vaccine strategy. Surveillance data can reveal things such as whether certain populations are more prone to asymptomatic infection, says Paish. "That's important to know because asymptomatic individuals can certainly spread the virus," says Paish. "You can make sure that you pay special attention to those individuals, make sure they're vaccinated." National efforts are underway to better understand immunity through Statistics Canada, in partnership with Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. The voluntary Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey is mailing thousands of blood sample collection kits to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies among Canadians, including those who never had symptoms. Health Canada's new approvals include one from China’s Assure Tech and a point-of-care device by BTNX Inc. of Markham, Ont. The Canadian test produces results in 15 minutes from a fingerstick blood sample, says chief financial officer Mitch Pittaway. It's meant to be delivered by a health-care professional in a clinic or health-care setting. He says clients in Europe include people who suspect they had COVID-19 but never displayed symptoms. "We see it used in dentists, doctor's office, any kind of clinics, pharmacies by the pharmacist on site," Pittaway says of overseas sales. "And really people who are, let's say, pre-vaccine. People who have been sick and are looking ... to confirm if they have in fact contracted COVID." Paish says comprehensive testing and screening programs will likely be needed in various environments such as long-term care facilities and workplaces, "until such time as we are really clear on the impact and accuracy of the vaccine programs." "It would be dangerous for society to think that once vaccines start to roll out there is no place for testing and screening strategies," she says. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
“Dark Sky,” by C.J. Box (Putnam) Steve Price, the billionaire left coast CEO of a social media company, wants to go elk hunting in Wyoming. He’s hankering for a “real” wilderness experience, he tells the state’s governor, because when a guy like Price wants to shoot something, that’s who he calls. The governor, hoping a good experience will convince Price to choose Wyoming for his new headquarters, orders Game Warden Joe Pickett to make it happen. Traipsing through the rugged mountains with a spoiled-rotten greenhorn and his fawning entourage isn’t on Joe’s bucket list, but the governor doesn’t give him much choice. Joe can lose the attitude or his job. But in “Dark Sky,” C.J. Box’s 21st Joe Pickett novel, another Wyoming outdoorsman is thrilled at the news that Price is coming. Earl Thomas blames social media in general and Price in particular for online bullying that he thinks drove his daughter to suicide. Earl figured he’d have to go to Silicon Valley to get his revenge, but now Price is coming to him. As it turns out, the suicide may have been mostly Earl’s fault, but acknowledging that is not in his tool kit. So as Price and Pickett head into the mountains to hunt elk, Thomas and his two thuggish sons mount up to hunt them. The result is a suspenseful, action-packed yarn set in the vividly described wilderness around Battle Mountain. Meanwhile, as Joe is struggling to survive, his pal Nate Romanowski, a not fully reformed outlaw turned falconer, has troubles of his own. Somebody has been sealing his falcons, and if Nate ever gets his hands on him, blood will be spilled. This subplot ends in a cliffhanger, an obvious teaser for Joe Picket No. 22. ___ Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.” Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
Fresh air, blazing speed and spacious alpine terrain makes skiing and snowboarding low-risk activities for COVID-19 transmission, infectious disease doctors say. But the threat is never zero during a global pandemic, they add. And people working those snowy slopes may be at greater risk of catching the virus than those dashing down them. Most ski hills in Ontario were permitted to reopen Tuesday, joining other mountainous resorts across the country that have remained operational through the winter. Many have implemented extra safety precautions and operate under local restrictions, including asking patrons to wear face coverings on lifts, cancelling classes and limiting access to indoor spaces. While the activity of skiing is relatively safe from a transmission standpoint, experts say spread can still happen, and COVID outbreaks have been reported at larger resorts over the last couple months, mostly affecting staff members. One in Kelowna, B.C., in December began with workers living on site before it sprawled to include more than 130 cases. Popular Lake Louise and Nakiska resorts in Alberta also reported outbreaks among staff. Dr. Andrew Boozary, the executive director of population health and social medicine at the University Health Network, says it's clusters of cases like those that make ski hills concerning. "I have no anti-skiing bias — it's an activity that makes a whole lot of sense in Canada — but there's a lot of people who take on risk to ensure a ski hill is operational," he said. "A lot of the time we rely on people who are in temporary work or who've been underpaid, without living wages and without paid sick leave, to take on risk so some of us can have that pleasure and leisure activity." Boozary likened the recent emphasis on ski hills to that of golf courses over the summer, or to policy around cottages and seasonal vacation homes that were tailored to higher-income populations. Skiing, like golf, isn't affordable to everyone, he says. And while Boozary agrees that skiing and snowboarding can provide mental health benefits of exercise in a low-risk setting, he'd like to see more emphasis on ensuring lower-income populations have safe, outdoor spaces too. "We've seen this dichotomy, this tale of two pandemics. And we're seeing it now with skiing," Boozary said. "There's an income divide on who gets access to these spaces." Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta, says staff members at ski resorts are more likely than visitors to become infected because of the close proximity workers tend to be in. Sometimes they share indoor spaces like lunchrooms, which aren't conducive to mask-wearing when people are eating, Schwartz says, and "transmission thrives" in those settings. "The likelihood of infection is going to be a function of physical proximity, the amount of time they're in that proximity, the activities they're doing and whether there are precautions taken to minimize transmission." While skiers will generally be safe, those who wish to hit the slopes still need to be mindful of safety precautions, Schwartz says. He added that spread is more likely to happen before or after people glide down the mountains, like when they put on ski boots in a crowded indoor area. Those spots should be avoided when possible, Schwartz says, and masks should be worn when distance can't be maintained. Other factors could make trips to snowy resorts more dangerous, he added, including guests travelling from COVID hot spots and potentially bringing the virus with them into small ski towns. The rise of new variants of concern might require more stringent restrictions on skiers as well, says Parisa Ariya, a chemistry professor at McGill University who specializes in aerosol transmission. Ariya says while outdoor settings are far safer than indoors, spread "actually does happen outside" in some instances, and she recommends wearing a mask while skiing or snowboarding. Winters in Quebec and Ontario make air more dense, Ariya adds, which could have an impact on how long viral particles stay in the atmosphere. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says that while cold air may cause physical changes to aerosols "it does not translate to increased risk of disease transmission." He says risk of outdoor spread remains "quite low," except for situations with large crowds in close contact, like during concerts or sporting events. "From a public health standpoint I would much rather see 50 people skiing outdoors than a group of 10 watching TV together indoors," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASHVILLE — Rita Fentress was worried she might get lost as she travelled down the unfamiliar forested, one-lane road in rural Tennessee in search of a coronavirus vaccine. Then the trees cleared and the Hickman County Agricultural Pavilion appeared. The 74-year-old woman wasn’t eligible to be vaccinated in Nashville, where she lives, because there were so many health care workers to vaccinate there. But a neighbour told her the state's rural counties had already moved to younger age groups and she found an appointment 60 miles away. “I felt kind of guilty about it,” she said. “I thought maybe I was taking it from someone else.” But late that February day, she said there were still five openings for the next morning. The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation. In some cases, recriminations over how scarce vaccines are distributed have taken on partisan tones, with rural Republican lawmakers in Democrat-led states complaining of “picking winners and losers,” and urbanites travelling hours to rural GOP-leaning communities to score COVID-19 shots when there are none in their city. In Oregon, state GOP lawmakers walked out of a Legislative session last week over the Democratic governor's vaccine plans, citing rural vaccine distribution among their concerns. In upstate New York, public health officials in rural counties have complained of disparities in vaccine allocation and in North Carolina, rural lawmakers say too many doses were going to mass vaccine centres in big cities. In Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama, a dearth of shots in urban areas with the greatest number of health care workers has led senior citizens to snap up appointments hours from their homes. The result is a hodgepodge of approaches that can look like the exact opposite of equity, where those most likely to be vaccinated are people with the savvy and means to search out a shot and travel to wherever it is. “It’s really, really flawed,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who noted there are even vaccine hunters who will find a dose for money. “Ideally, allocations would meet the population’s needs.” With little more than general guidance from the federal government, states have taken it upon themselves to decide what it means to distribute the vaccine fairly and reach vulnerable populations. Tennessee, like many states, has divvied up doses based primarily on county population, not on how many residents belong to eligible groups — such as health care workers. The Tennessee health commissioner has defended the allocation as the “most equitable,” but the approach has also exposed yet another layer of haves and have-nots as the vaccine rollout accelerates. In Oregon, the issue led state officials to pause dose deliveries in some rural areas that had finished inoculating their health care workers while clinics elsewhere, including the Portland metro area, caught up. The dust-up last month prompted an angry response, with some state GOP lawmakers accusing the Democratic governor of playing favourites with the urban dwellers who elected her. Public health leaders in Morrow County, a farming region in northeastern Oregon with one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates, said they had to delay two vaccine clinics because of the state's decision. Other rural counties delayed vaccines for seniors. States face plenty of challenges. Rural counties are less likely to have the deep-freeze equipment necessary to store Pfizer vaccines. Health care workers are often concentrated in big cities. And rural counties were particularly hard hit by COVID-19 in many states, but their residents are among the most likely to say they're “definitely not” going to get vaccinated, according to recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling. Adalja said most of these complications were foreseeable and could have been avoided with proper planning and funding. “There are people who know how to do this,” he said. “They're just not in charge of it.” In Missouri, where Facebook groups have emerged with postings about appointment availabilities in rural areas, state Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, a Democrat from the Kansas City suburb of Independence, cited a need to direct more vaccine to urban areas. The criticism drew an angry rebuke from Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who said vaccine distribution has been proportional to the population and critics are using “cherry-picked” data. “There is no division between rural and urban Missouri,” Parson said during his weekly COVID-19 update last week. In Republican-led Tennessee, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey notes that the Trump administration deemed the state’s plan among the nation's most equitable. Extra doses go to 35 counties with a high social vulnerability index score — many small and rural, but also Shelby County, which includes Memphis, with a large Black population. Last week, state officials revealed some 2,400 doses had been wasted in Shelby County over the past month due to miscommunication and insufficient record-keeping. The county also built up nearly 30,000 excessive doses in its inventory. The situation caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate and the county health director to resign. In Nashville, Democratic Mayor John Cooper says the fact that city residents can get shots elsewhere is a positive, even if the road trips are “a little bit of a pain.” “I’m grateful that other counties have not said, ‘Oh my gosh, you have to be a resident of this county always to get the vaccine,’” Cooper said. Nashville educators Jennifer Simon and Jessica Morris took sick days last week to make the four-hour round-trip to tiny Van Buren County, population less than 6,000. They got their first shots there in January, when Republican Gov. Bill Lee was pushing Nashville and Memphis area schools to return to in-person classes. Republican lawmakers even threatened to pull funding from districts that remained online. In-person classes started a couple weeks ago, but the city only began vaccinating teachers last week. “It was scary, frustrating, and feeling really betrayed,” Simon said. ____ Flaccus reported from Portland, Oregon. Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri; Bryan Anderson in Raleigh, N.C., and Carla Johnson in Washington state contributed. Travis Loller, Jonathan Mattise And Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
Infectious disease experts and COVID-19 modelers are sounding alarm bells of an approaching third wave expected to be driven by more contagious variants of the virus.But while we brace for Wave 3, some are wondering if we ever actually cleared Wave 2, especially in populous areas of the country where transmission has remained more steady.Experts say the definition of what constitutes a "wave" and pinpointing when it's passed isn't so clear.Some say we're on the tail end of the second wave now, as evidenced by the downward trend of cases across the country, while others say ebbs and flows haven't been uniform enough to determine when one wave ends and another begins. Caroline Colijn, a COVID modeler and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, says the word "wave" has been somewhat misleading. Waves of viruses tend to ease up on their own as immunity grows within a population, she says, which we haven't reached yet with COVID.Instead, the ebb and flow of SARS-CoV-2 has been dictated by our own actions, Colijn added, for instance restrictive measures that limit the ability of the virus to spread."This isn't a wave, it's a forest fire," Colijn said. "We turn the hoses off and the flames build up again and we get exponential growth. Then we turn the hoses back on and cases decrease." Colijn, whose modelling predicts steep rises in cases around the end of February in six of Canada's biggest provinces, says the challenge of "wave language" is that when waves recede, people think the threat has ceded with it.But until we reach levels of herd immunity, she says, that's not going to happen."We're not seeing a natural tailing off. We're seeing things drop because of restrictions — those fire hoses we put in front of the fire," she said. "Then we turn the hoses off and we're surprised that this wave is coming back."Canada's top doctors said Friday that eight provinces have reported cases of new COVID variants, with three of them showing evidence of community transmission.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said there had been 429 cases of the variant first identified in the U.K., 28 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa, and one of the variant first found in Brazil.While it sounds like a small number compared to our population, University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk says the heightened transmissibility of those variants makes the situation more alarming.Compounding things further is that true prevalence of the variants nationwide is unknown, he added, though some jurisdictions have been doing point-prevalence studies to help determine that. Kindrachuk says one or two cases, when caught early and isolated, aren't too concerning. But danger proliferates as more pop up."You have that initial fire and then sparks start flying ... and that leads to a bunch of small fires," he said. "If those start to catch, you lose the ability to necessarily keep things in control." Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, says the presence of more transmissible variants means people should be more diligent in adhering to current safety measures aimed at slowing the spread of other COVID strains, including limiting contacts, mask-wearing and distancing.The spike in variant cases comes at a time when Canada appears to be "two-thirds of the way down the curve," Tam said, as overall COVID cases fall.Some jurisdictions, like Ontario, have taken that as reason to reopen. Most of the province is moving away from its stay-at-home orders next week, even though projections released Thursday show a potentially rapid rise by late February. Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto, says reopening Ontario now could lead to further lockdowns in the province later."I anticipate our numbers over the next two weeks are going to be pretty good, but it's four weeks from now, six weeks from now that I'm most concerned about," he said.Troy Day, a COVID modeler out of Queen's University, says the problem with the variants is that they're still lurking beneath the surface. And they may not truly be seen until they take hold more firmly.Day said he's concerned about a third wave in Canada because places like Britain have shown similar trajectories."Cases go down and you think everything's OK, but underneath is actually an increase in variant cases that will eventually dominate everything," he said.Day says the word wave is "funny terminology," adding he's been hesitant to definitively label the ups and downs of COVID case counts that way."All the waves we've seen are driven largely by what we're doing to control it," Day said. "The more we open up and shut down, the more multiple waves we'll have."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
As concerns about internationally identified COVID-19 variants hit closer to home, public health authorities are asking — and increasingly, ordering — people to isolate safely, away from others in their household. Here are some examples of how hotels and quarantine facilities are being used to keep the virus from spreading through communities. TRAVELLERS WAITING FOR TEST RESULTS As the federal government rolls out new restrictions to prevent contagious mutations of the COVID-19 virus from crossing the border, more travellers are set to be sent to hotels and other facilities to serve at least part of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Under the new rules, which will take effect on Feb. 22, returning travellers will have to take a COVID-19 test at the airport at their own expense. They're then required to spend the first three days of their quarantine at a supervised hotel while awaiting their results, and foot the bill for their stay, expected to cost upwards of $2,000. Hotel booking information will be available online as of Feb.18. Those with negative results can serve the remainder of their two-week quarantine at home, while those with positive tests will be sent to government designated facilities. Those arriving via the land border will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, and then another COVID-19 test at the end of their quarantine. Land border arrivals do not have to stay in a hotel as part of their mandatory two-week quarantine. Earlier this week, the federal government outlined some of the application requirements for privately owned hotels looking to be part of the three-night stay program. The hotels must be within 10 kilometres of one of the four international airports currently accepting flights from abroad in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Hotels will be responsible for providing three nights of lodging in keeping with public health requirements. That includes safely shuttling guests to their accommodations; offering contactless meal delivery to rooms; access to phones and internet; and reporting traveller information to authorities, such as check-in and check-out. Safety protocols include measures to monitor movement within the hotel and ensure compliance with isolation requirements. Travellers must be sequestered from regular clients, and the hotel must have process to allow "essential and short outside time," such as smoke breaks. FEDERALLY DESIGNATED FACILITIES FOR TRAVELLERS IN QUARANTINE Since the outbreak took hold in Canada, Ottawa has been putting up travellers in hotels and other lodging sites as a "last resort" for those without a suitable place to self-isolate, said a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada. Tammy Jarbeau said in an email that the agency currently operates 11 designated quarantine facilities in nine cities across Canada, with access to two provincially run sites. These sites had lodged 5,030 travellers, as of Jan. 24, said Jarbeau. She said the cost of the program wasn't readily available. As of last Thursday, all international passenger flights must land at one of four airports — Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal. Jarbeau said the government designates or cancels quarantine sites as needed, but declined to disclose their locations to "protect the privacy and safety of travellers." ISOLATION SITES FOR NORTHERN TRAVELLERS Two of the northern territories have long required travellers to make a public-health pit stop before entry. To fly back to Nunavut, residents must first spend two weeks at health isolation sites in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before they can be cleared to return to their home community. The territory covers costs such as a hotel room, meals and internet access, but travellers are responsible for any additional flight expenses. Travellers headed to Northwest Territories must self-isolate in one of four communities: Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith. Those who don't have a place to quarantine are sent to isolation centres. Last month, the territory said it would no longer pay to put up residents travelling for recreational reasons. Non-residents still have to cover their own accommodations. VOLUNTARY ISOLATION SITES A growing number of jurisdictions are setting up voluntary COVID-19 isolation sites to help people recover from the virus without putting other members of their household at risk. Public health officials say many Canadians can't safely self-isolate at home because of crowded housing conditions, contributing to the disproportionate spread of infections in low-income neighbourhoods. The centres offer people a free, safe place to self-isolate as well as other services such as meals, security, transportation, income support and links to health care. The federal government has committed roughly $29 million to support municipally run isolation sites in Toronto, Ottawa and the regions of Peel and Waterloo. The Ontario government is also spending $42 million to create and expand centres in locations across the province, adding up to1,525 more beds in coming weeks. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said people may be referred to the city's self-isolation sites by COVID-19 case managers and community outreach workers, but individuals can access the facilities on their own accord. Cressy said the city also runs a COVID-19 isolation site out of a hotel where people who are experiencing homelessness can stay while they're sick. He noted that this recovery program is distinct from the hotels that are being used as temporary homeless shelters to support physical distancing. ISOLATION HOTEL INCENTIVES In Alberta, people who need to self-isolate because of COVID-19 concerns can not only stay in a hotel room free of charge, but may qualify for a $625 relief payment upon check-out. Earlier this week, the province expanded a temporary financial aid program intended to incentivize Albertans to self-isolate in a hotel if they can't safely do so at home. Since December, residents of hard-hit neighbourhoods in Edmonton and Calgary have been eligible for a $625 government payment at the end of their stay. Now, the aid is open to all Albertans who have been referred by a provincial health authority. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Filming a polar bear just inches from its nose, close enough to see its breath fog up the lens, was a career highlight for Jeff Thrasher. The CBC producer is part of the team behind "Arctic Vets," a new show that follows the day-to-day operations at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg."It was breathing warm air onto the lens. I was thinking, 'Wow, there's nothing between me and this polar bear,"' Thrasher said, who filmed the shot using a GoPro camera up in Churchill, Man. The show is also the first time cameras have been allowed in the Winnipeg facility, which houses Arctic animals like seals, polar bears and muskox."I've filmed many, many things in my career and that's right up there," Thrasher said. There are 10 half-hour episodes in the new series that features expeditions to Manitoba's subarctic, emergency animal rescues and daily life at the conservancy. The first episode follows veterinarian Chris Enright to Churchill just as polar bears are starting to migrate up the coast of Hudson Bay. When a bear wanders too close to town, Enright works with the local Polar Bear Alert Team to catch it and lift it by helicopter to a safe distance away. In the same episode, back in Winnipeg, the team trims the hooves of resident 800-pound muskox, Chloe.Although being around Arctic animals is part of Enright's daily life, he hopes the show will help bring southern Canadians a little closer to the North."This is our norm. But it's not the norm for a lot of people, so the show is a good opportunity to tell these stories," he said. "We have herds of caribou that rival migrating animals on the Serengeti, but people in the South don't necessarily know about that. And that's really unfortunate, because there's some incredible wildlife in the North."Enright also hopes the show will urge Canadians to think about protecting the country's Arctic ecosystems, which face the critical threat of climate change."There's a lot of concern with the effects of climate change and over the next 50, 100 years what's going to happen. As southerners, there are things we can do to protect and conserve those ecosystems," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit in the middle of filming, which Enright said prevented the team from travelling into Nunavut.Jackie Enberg, an animal care supervisor and Heather Penner, an animal care professional, are also featured in the show for their work with polar bears."It's not just animal care or vet care, or conservation and research. It's all of it. We all have a great passion to educate and share and help inspire other people to make a difference, whether it's to make changes in your lives or just talk about," Penner said.Enberg said the bears featured in the show were rescued when they were a few years old. "They're here because they could not survive in the wild," Enberg said. "We just ultimately hope people will fall in love with polar bears as much as we have," Penner said. "Arctic Vets" premiers Friday, Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem. By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, NunavutThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.---This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that "Arctic Vets" premiers Friday at 8 p.m. In fact, it airs Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Tina Fey asked the tough question 10 minutes into the three-hour Golden Globes broadcast Sunday: Could this whole night have been an email? Well, maybe. We wouldn’t have gotten to see the awkwardness of Daniel Kaluuya’s acceptance speech (almost) cut before it began, Don Cheadle giving a tie-dyed sweatshirt clad Jason Sudeikis the wrap-up signal, or Catherine O’Hara’s husband playing her off with his iPhone — a funny bit hampered by bad sound. But we also wouldn’t have gotten to tear up along with Chadwick Boseman’s widow Taylor Simone Ledward or see the sweetness of Mark Ruffalo’s kids standing proudly behind him when he won, or Ethan Hawke’s sitting with him when he didn’t. We also wouldn’t have gotten swept away by Norman Lear’s heartfelt remarks. It helped that Lear’s setup looked professionally produced. Many did not. Celebrities, we’ve all learned over the past year, have bad lighting and shoddy internet connections too, even on an awards show night. The 78th Annual Golden Globes came in limping Sunday, not just because of the strangeness of producing a live, bicoastal show a year into a pandemic, but because in the week leading up to the event, the 87-person organization behind the endeavour, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, was given an unflattering spotlight in a series of exposes in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The most stinging revelation was that there are zero Black members in their ranks. Whether or not they would address it was perhaps the biggest question going into the night. Hosts Fey and Amy Poehler said they needed to change. And three members of the HFPA came out on stage to say they intended to. The remoteness of it all allowed them to control the controversy on their own terms, or at least manage it. For the show, it was a silver lining. For the audience, it felt like a punt. In a normal year, every nominee and guest would have been asked about it on the red carpet. All the celebrities who posted that Time’s Up message on their socials would have had to say something. Sunday, there was no one to ask. The HFPA may have just bought themselves another year to get their act together. Although their nominations are occasionally absurd, the ultimate winners often aren’t. “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao became the first woman to win best director since Barbra Streisand in 1984. Boseman won too. As did “Minari” and Lee Isaac Chung (who also shared an especially sweet moment with his young daughter), even if it was relegated to the foreign language category. Kate Hudson, who proved to be a trouper despite all the fun made of her nomination and film, did not. Unfortunately, as the night wore on, more and more winners found themselves played off by the show, including most of “The Crown.” Worse, the cut off music was bad. The evening had its inspired comedic moments too, most of which came from hosts Fey and Poehler who in their fourth time leading the show seamlessly played off of one another with almost 3,000 miles between them. Though it was easy to forget that they were on different coasts, they were always ready with a well-timed gag acknowledging that they weren’t. They also mocked the weirdness of it all, about halfway through exhaustedly recapping the meagre GIF and meme moments thus far — Cheadle, Tracy Morgan mispronouncing “Soul” as sal and Sudeikis’ hoodie. “Those are the messy things we love about the Globes,” Poehler said. The show has always been touted as a party, boozy, glamourous and unruly with hosts who are welcome to poke fun and occasionally even cross the line. The booziness perhaps has been overstated of late — most are far too savvy to get drunk on camera before their category. Besides, that’s what the after parties are for. But there was a lot lost here, even as the show tried to manufacture moments between the nominees with awkward semi-public five-way conversations before commercial breaks. “This is so weird,” said Lily Collins, to the heads on the five disconnected screens around her. She could have been speaking for all of us. Cutting away to the nominees after a joke or a related win was rarely successful and often stilted, although the later categories seemed to learn from the mistakes of the earlier ones. But it made it even more frustrating that the show failed to use their in-person talent more creatively. Yes, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo got a fun “Barb and Star” moment, as did Maya Rudolph and Kenan Thompson. But they also got Tiffany Haddish to show up and all she got was one quip about Eddie Murphy’s mansions. The NBC tie-ins, too, seemed more shameless than usual. The Golden Globes have in years past been a frivolity that's still a pretty watchable, star-studded show. It occasionally even captured the zeitgeist in surprisingly meaningful ways. Audiences expect the worst and sometimes find it. But there are also grace notes in all the silliness— remember the sea of black to support the newly formed Time’s Up a few years ago and that Oprah speech? And maybe it’s that tension that has kept the Globes audience relatively stable. Whether or not this year will hold up when the numbers come in remains to be seen, but it would be a surprise. And does it matter? It’s not as though anyone involved is planning to relive this experience. “We all know that awards shows are stupid,” Fey said early on. Yes, they are. But maybe it’s just the stupidity we all need after a very tough year. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Sorry kids, but an education expert says a snow day might not be enough to get you out of that test in the era of online learning. Heavy snowfall disrupted the reopening of schools in three COVID-19 hot spots in the Toronto area Tuesday. Public and Catholic school boards in Peel and York Regions cancelled in-person classes because of the inclement weather, but they said virtual learning would continue, snow or shine. Meanwhile, the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic District school boards decided to move ahead with reopening, but forced students to make their own way to class after cancelling transportation services. Paul Bennett, director of Schoolhouse Consulting, says the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a lesson about the need for learning to continue even when students can't make it to class. "It's time to say goodbye to snow days, once and for all," Bennett said by phone from Halifax. "We need to be using all the knowledge we've gained through adjusting to COVID-19 and put it to good use.' Bennett said Canadian schoolchildren are suffering from the "COVID slide," which he characterized as the greatest learning loss in recent history. But the crisis has also forced school authorities to adopt a variety of remote learning techniques that allow kids to carry on with their studies during periods of mass disruption, he said. "There has been a steep learning curve for teachers, parents and students. And they're now much more accustomed to performing online," Bennett said. "There's no rationale any longer for cancelling school because of inclement weather." In recent years, school boards in some regions seem to have become more inclined to cancel classes at the first sign of bad weather, particularly in the storm-prone Maritime provinces, he said. Bennett said the rise of snow days has not only cost students valuable class time, but also hurts working parents' productivity. While he appreciates that snow days are a childhood "rite of passage," Bennett said these surprise days of winter fun should be as special as they are scarce. "I love snow days as much as any kid going to school," he said. "But as soon as you're losing a week or two weeks (of school), as is the case in some jurisdictions across Canada ... there is a legitimate case to be made that there's significant learning loss." One Ontario school board is trying a new approach in responding to severe weather. The superintendent of the Waterloo Region District School Board said Tuesday marked the district's second "weather-impacted distance learning day," allowing virtual studies to continue through school and bus closures. Scott Miller said in previous years, students were still expected to attend school when transportation services were suspended on account of snow. But that's changed under the school board's new COVID-19 snow day policy, shifting all learning to the online sphere. Because not all students have access to devices, these modified snow days will be used to review what they've learned rather than teaching new concepts, said Miller. When normal studies can safely resume, he said, the school board is considering offering a hybrid of online and in-person learning so students can keep up with their studies regardless of whether buses are running, he said. "Students do look at snow days with exuberance. Or did in the past, certainly, as they saw it as a day that they didn't have to necessarily engage in school," said Miller. "This year, (we're) ... really taking advantage of some of the experiences so that we are learning through what has been an incredibly difficult time." Krista Harquail, a mother of two in York Region, said she welcomes the shift toward online learning as a way to ensure that students, staff and parents alike stay safe rather than risk driving to school in subpar conditions. She recognizes that snow days put pressure on parents who don't have the option of working from home. But if kids are going to be home regardless, they may as well be learning something, Harquail said. "Perhaps this is a step to make education better in the long run," she said. "No one's really falling behind." Harquail added that parents still have the option of pulling their children out of class if they want to make the most of the powder for seasonal pastimes, such as snowball fights and tobogganing. Still, she said her kids were disappointed to learn that they wouldn't be going back to class Tuesday. "I think this one hit a little bit differently than normal snow days," said Harquail. "(My daughter) almost started crying today. Because she's like, 'Oh, I thought I was going to go back to school and see my friends.'" This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Les observateurs les plus cyniques vont régulièrement répéter le laïus voulant que les politiciens de carrière soient tous faits à partir d’un même moule. Pourtant, l’éventail des citoyens qui se lancent en politique municipale est on ne peut plus varié. À ce chapitre, le parcours ayant mené Mathieu Daviault au conseil de Saint-Amable fait partie de ceux qui peuvent étonner. Élu pour la première fois en 2017, l’Amablien de 33 ans a notamment dû décider, à la croisée des chemins, s’il devait poursuivre sa carrière sportive dans les arts martiaux mixtes (AMM) ou se lancer en affaires pour gagner sa vie. « J’ai toujours été sportif, nous explique celui qui, en compagnie de son père, a fondé l’entreprise Conteneur Daviault en 2010. J’ai joué au football, au hockey durant toute ma jeunesse. Puis, à 21 ans, à la suite d’une blessure au genou, j’ai décidé de changer de discipline. Comme les sports de combat m’ont toujours intéressé, je me suis lancé dans les arts martiaux mixtes. J’ai notamment appris le jiu-jitsu, une des disciplines fortes dans la pratique des AMM. » Avec une fiche de sept victoires en neuf combats, on peut même dire que le jeune homme montrait un certain talent chez les combattants amateurs. Après avoir pris la décision de quitter l’hexagone pour de bon, le futur conseiller du district 2 de Saint-Amable a cependant poursuivi sa passion pour le jiu-jitsu, ce qui lui a permis de voyager pour participer à des compétitions un peu partout en Amérique avant de devenir lui-même entraîneur. « Sans me vanter, je pense que je suis un bon élève, croit Mathieu Daviault. J’ai roulé ma bosse. Le jiu-jitsu m’a permis de vivre des expériences incroyables. C’est un beau sport. Et c’était quand même moins demandant côté temps. En AMM, tu dois t’entraîner trois heures, et ce, tous les soirs avant un combat. Alors j’ai fait un choix de vie. Le jiu-jitsu, c’est demandant, mais la charge est quand même moins grande.» À l’instar de bien des résidents de Saint-Amable, où la moyenne d’âge se maintient sous la barre des 35 ans, Mathieu Daviault a fondé son propre petit clan ces dernières années. Père de deux fillettes âgées de 5 ans et 2 ans et demi, celui-ci a profité de la pandémie pour passer un peu plus de temps avec sa marmaille et intégrer la pratique de la discipline à la routine familiale. « On pratique la base, les techniques, les mouvements, mais c’est toujours sous forme de jeu, précise celui qui, en 2019, a été le candidat conservateur lors des élections fédérales dans Pierre-Boucher–Les Patriotes–Verchères. Ma grande, elle fait ça depuis déjà deux ans avec papa. C’est quelque chose que j’adore. Durant la pandémie, il n’y avait pas de cours pour les enfants, alors j’ai acheté des tapis pour que nous puissions pratiquer toutes les semaines dans le garage. C’est important pour moi. C’est un sport qui permet d’acquérir des vertus comme la discipline. Il faut dire que c'est aussi une technique d’autodéfense, alors c’est comme un cadeau qu’on leur fait. » Quant à l’inévitable parallèle entre les arts martiaux mixtes et la politique, celui dont la grand-mère paternelle a également été conseillère municipale admet qu’il y a des similitudes, même si la civilité est souvent plus présente entre des combattants qu’entre adversaires politiques. « Pour avoir fait les deux, je peux vous dire par expérience personnelle qu’il y a beaucoup plus de respect en sport de combat que dans la politique. Ça, c'est définitif! » Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Canadians perusing social media may be coming across photos of their American peers bearing wide smiles and vaccination cards that show they've been inoculated against COVID-19. A recent ramping up of the United States's vaccine rollout has it vastly outpacing its northern neighbour, and some Canadians are wondering why distribution here is lagging so far behind. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease doctor in South Carolina, says that while the speed of the American rollout has been impressive lately, it's not been without its faults. Communication between states has been mostly lacking, she says, and the absence of a uniform standard for vaccine eligibility has led to inconsistencies across jurisdictions. Some states, for example, include teachers high on their priority list while others are still working on inoculating those 80 years and older. Confusion in the early stages of the rollout caused frustration and dampened trust, she added. And while the shift to a new presidential administration last month has led to some improvements, Kuppalli says there's room for more. "I don't think we're the model of success," she said in a phone interview. "We've had a lot of challenges. ... but it's getting better. "Communication is better, there's definitely greater transparency, and states have been very forthcoming in ramping up vaccine measures and rolling out mass vaccination sites. So all that's helping." The U.S. was vaccinating an average of 1.7 million Americans per day this week, and had administered at least one dose to more than 12 per cent of its population as of Friday. Canada, which recently dealt with weeks of shipping delays and disruptions from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has doled out nearly 1.4 million doses since its rollout began mid-December, covering about 2.65 per cent of its population with at least one dose. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday vaccine delivery is set to rapidly increase, however, with provinces preparing to roll out almost a million and a half doses over the next three weeks. The Americans have many factors in their favour when speeding up vaccine distribution, experts say, including a much more expansive supply than Canada's that's bolstered by production from U.S.-based Moderna. While having supply is the first step, Kuppalli says getting those vaccines into pharmacies, where they can be easily administered, has also helped. The American government announced weeks ago its aim to supply vaccines to about 40,000 drugstores in the coming months. Canada has not yet reached the pharmacy stage of its vaccine rollout, but Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto, expects that to happen once we have enough supply to branch out. "We have the exact same plan, we just need the critical mass of vaccines," said Bogoch, who's also on Ontario's vaccine distribution task force. "When we get that, you're gonna see from coast to coast vaccines offered at many different settings." While pharmacy distribution makes sense for a quick rollout, it also can lead to problems with wasted doses if people aren't showing up for their appointments, says Kelly Grindrod, a professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines need to used within a relatively short timeframe after they're thawed from ultra-cold storage temperatures, Grindrod says, and once a vial has been punctured, that interval decreases further. She says Canada has been learning from wastage setbacks other countries are experiencing, and she expects Plan B lists to be compiled of individuals who can quickly fill in when no-shows arise. Those lists have to be made fairly though, she cautions. "You have to make sure there's no queue-jumping. So it's not your friend coming in, it's actually people who would fall normally on the next round of priority." Grindrod says queue-jumping — where people with lower risk of contracting the virus or experiencing a bad COVID outcome are vaccinated before higher-priority groups — has been more culturally unacceptable in Canada than it has in the U.S., a country without a universal health-care system. So there's some justifiable outrage, she adds, when Canadians see American friends boasting about getting their jabs, especially if they're not in high-risk populations. "Equity is probably the most important principle of the Canadian vaccine rollout," Grindrod said. "And I'm not sure that's the case in the U.S." While the American rollout has had its faults, Grindrod admires some of the more unique approaches happening south of the border to ensure high-risk groups can get their doses. She noted the recent role Black churches have played in co-ordinating inoculation drives among typically underserved neighbourhoods, and the pharmacists who have been driving vaccines into remote communities to inoculate those who can't easily get to an immunization centre. "You're seeing really positive examples where communities themselves are helping to create effective outreach," she said. "So I think those are the real lessons we can learn from the U.S." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2021 Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Thousands of rare photos and artifacts spanning decades of First Nations and Saskatchewan history will find a new home. Amateur Arcola historian Adrian Paton died last month at 86, leaving behind a treasure trove of historical photos of First Nations in Saskatchewan from around the turn of the century. The collection has passed to family members, who are considering how to share the historical photos with the public and, if possible, repatriate the artifacts to their home communities. "The picture is valuable, but the story behind the picture is what makes it incredible," said his daughter, Val Guillemin. She helped Paton compile his 2018 book, An Honest, Genial and Kindly People, which features photos and stories Paton gathered over three to four decades of research. That research grew to be a valuable source for Indigenous communities piecing together family histories, she said. One of those people was Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, a board member of Wanuskewin Heritage Park and a senior director of Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan. She's helping Guillemin find a suitable place for her father's work, whether that's through an exhibit or by repatriating some of the artifacts. Wasacase-Lafferty has personal ties to Paton's work. Her father, who was in residential school, was about eight years old when his mother died. She grew up with few stories about her grandmother. When she found Paton's book, she pored over every turn of the century photo of her home community of Kahkewistahaw First Nation, thinking her grandmother could be there. "I'm like 50 years old and I finally feel I've seen really who I am," she said. Wasacase-Lafferty compared it to an "odd, cold and sad" Plains Cree exhibit at the British Royal Museum she saw 10 years ago, saying Paton's work is an example of how it could be done better. It acts a model of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations, she said. University of the Fraser Valley history professor Keith Carlson, who worked with Paton at the U of S, said the rarity of the documents is also historically significant. Many of the records haven't been preserved elsewhere, he said. Carlson, a former president of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, assisted Paton with his collection. He said Paton's work was notable for investigating archival sources, like old newspaper articles, to track down photos and build histories around the images. That can be a valuable resource for families learning about their histories, including by replicating highly specific details like the designs on regalia in the photos, he noted. That's valuable for people like Ocean Man First Nation Chief Connie Big Eagle. When she visited Paton's house, she lingered in front of an old photo that caught her eye. Paton told her the name of the man in the picture, leading Big Eagle to discover it was a photo of her great-grandfather that she had never seen before. "It was like there was a connection, an understanding or something, of who we come from." Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press